This week’s article takes us back to 1945-46. The MFA Council was still finding its feet after the chaos of the war. The old clubs were rebuilding their teams while others, like Naxxar, Ħamrun, Luqa and Żabbar were making a very welcome appearance in the league
The 1945-46 Second Division League was one of the best contested for many seasons. The teams were divided into four sections. Naxxar Lions, Ħamrun Liberty, Florid Lions and Żejtun United won their respective sections.
The promise of a place in the First Division was an added incentive for the clubs and many keen matches were played with interest sustained up to the very last match of the competition.
In Section A, Naxxar Lions fought a fierce battle with Żabbar FC. The match between the two protagonists ended in a 2-2 draw but Żabbar spoilt their chances when they drew 1-1 with Luqa St Andrew’s. This left Naxxar free to coast through to the winning post.
In Section B, Ħamrun Liberty fought a similar battle with Rainbows FC. Once again, the decider ended in a 1-1 draw but then Tarxien dropped another point in the game against Birkirkara United to leave Ħamrun a point clear at the top of the table.
Florid Lions of Cospicua dominated Section C from start to finish. The Lions won all their matches to finish as section winners on full points.
In Section D, Żejtun United copied Florid Lions, winning all their matches without much difficulty to enter the final round of the competition.
It was now time for the championship deciders. These games attracted very large crowds to the Stadium rivalling even those who attended the First Division.
In the semi-finals, Naxxar Lions beat Żejtun United 2-0 while Ħamrun Liberty had the better of Florid Lions 4-2.
The final between Naxxar Lions and Ħamrun Liberty was the match of the season, at least, as far as the Second Division was concerned.
The game was played on April 21, 1945. Excitement reigned supreme as was to be expected from two districts like Naxxar and Ħamrun.
Ħamrun were favourites to win but they were surprised by a fast Naxxar team led by the great Friggieri brothers, Ċensu and Pawlu.
A fine hat-trick by the latter and a goal by inside-right Ninu Calleja gave the Lions a merited 4-0 victory and a place in the First Division for the first time in the club’s history.
Ħamrun’s dream of promotion ended, for the time being at least in disappointment. They were down but not out, and while they licked their wounds, they set their sights optimistically on the FA Trophy.
1945-46 was a great season for Naxxar.
With players like Catania in goal, the famous Friggieri brothers Pawlu and Ċensu, Enriquez, Ninu Calleja, Sgt. Falzon of the RMA and Nikol Aquilina, the Lions was one of the best teams in an array of good Second Division sides. They were hotly-tipped for promotion when the season was still young and, when the final day of reckoning arrived, they lived up to expectations.
In 1946, for the first time since 1921, a knock-out competition was held for Division Two teams.
After their fine performances in the league, Ħamrun Liberty and Naxxar Lions were firm favourites to win this competition.
Ħamrun Liberty lived up to expectations and after beating the reserves of St Joseph’s FC 10-1 in the first round, they went on to beat Żabbar FC 4-1 on their way to the semi-finals.
Naxxar also fought their way to the semi-finals with victories against Vittoriosa Stars and Birkirkara United in the earlier rounds.
Dreams of a Ħamrun Liberty vs Naxxar Lions final were shattered when the two rivals were drawn together in the semi-finals.
Ħamrun had an axe to grind and they went about it the right way when they beat Naxxar 5-1 in a match which they dominated from start to finish.
There was now no stopping the team from Ħamrun and in the final they appropriated themselves of the trophy with an outstanding 6-1 victory over Florid Lions, of Cospicua.
Naxxar L. vs Żejtun Ued 1-0
Ħamrun L. vs Florid Lions 4-2
Naxxar L. vs Ħamrun L. 4-0